Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to arrive in Washington on April 15th for a three-day visit before he heads to New York City. On Thursday, April 17, he will celebrate Mass at Nationals Park, the new stadium that is home of the capital city's professional baseball team. In a workshop in rural Maryland, 53 kilometers from the U.S. Capitol, a carpenter is working on the special furniture for the religious service. VOA's Susan Logue has the story.
Dave Cahoon has been a professional woodworker for 30 years, turning logs into lumber and then crafting fine furnishings. Since 1988, he has specialized in church renovation and woodwork such as pews and altars.
In his workshop, he is now creating the furniture for the April 17th papal Mass, a project Cahoon says marks the pinnacle of his career. "It's an awesome honor. I understand the Holy Father is just a man, but he is the spiritual leader of over a billion Catholics worldwide, so when I'm sanding on a piece of wood he is going to be touching, I just sand a little harder."
The papal furnishings include the altar and the chair, with its carved papal seal. The third piece Choon is creating is an ambo, a lectern designed specifically for the Bible.
The filigrees on the base of the ambo and the altar are made of aluminum. So is the back of the papal chair. The wood is maple. "It's a beautiful wood because of the way the light hits it,” Cahoon says, adding he hopes the day will be sunny so the furniture stands out.
Dave Cahoon will be there at Nationals Park along with thousands of other Catholics when Pope Benedict celebrates Mass on April 17th.